Mark 14-15:47 English Standard Version (ESV)
The Plot to Kill Jesus
14 It was now two days before the Passover and the Feast of Unleavened Bread. And the chief priests and the scribes were seeking how to arrest him by stealth and kill him, 2 for they said, “Not during the feast, lest there be an uproar from the people.”
Jesus Anointed at Bethany
3 And while he was at Bethany in the house of Simon the leper,[a] as he was reclining at table, a woman came with an alabaster flask of ointment of pure nard, very costly, and she broke the flask and poured it over his head. 4 There were some who said to themselves indignantly, “Why was the ointment wasted like that? 5 For this ointment could have been sold for more than three hundred denarii[b] and given to the poor.” And they scolded her. 6 But Jesus said, “Leave her alone. Why do you trouble her? She has done a beautiful thing to me. 7 Foryou always have the poor with you, and whenever you want, you can do good for them. But you will not always have me. 8 She has done what she could; she has anointed my body beforehand for burial. 9 And truly, I say to you, whereverthe gospel is proclaimed in the whole world, what she has done will be told in memory of her.”
Judas to Betray Jesus
10 Then Judas Iscariot, who was one of the twelve, went to the chief priests in order to betray him to them. 11 And when they heard it, they were glad and promised to give him money. And he sought an opportunity to betray him.
The Passover with the Disciples
12 And on the first day of Unleavened Bread, when they sacrificed the Passover lamb, his disciples said to him, “Where will you have us go and prepare for you to eat the Passover?” 13 And he sent two of his disciples and said to them, “Go into the city, and a man carrying a jar of water will meet you. Follow him,14 and wherever he enters, say to the master of the house, ‘The Teacher says, Where is my guest room, where I may eat the Passover with my disciples?’15 And he will show you a large upper room furnished and ready; there prepare for us.” 16 And the disciples set out and went to the city and found it just as he had told them, and they prepared the Passover.
17 And when it was evening, he came with the twelve. 18 And as they were reclining at table and eating, Jesus said, “Truly, I say to you, one of you will betray me, one who is eating with me.” 19 They began to be sorrowful and to say to him one after another, “Is it I?” 20 He said to them, “It is one of the twelve, one who is dipping bread into the dish with me. 21 For the Son of Man goes as it is written of him, but woe to that man by whom the Son of Man is betrayed! It would have been better for that man if he had not been born.”
Institution of the Lord's Supper
22 And as they were eating, he took bread, and after blessing it broke it and gave it to them, and said, “Take; this is my body.” 23 And he took a cup, and when he had given thanks he gave it to them, and they all drank of it. 24 And he said to them, “This is my blood of the[c] covenant, which is poured out formany. 25 Truly, I say to you, I will not drink again of the fruit of the vine until that day when I drink it new in the kingdom of God.”
Jesus Foretells Peter's Denial
26 And when they had sung a hymn, they went out to the Mount of Olives.27 And Jesus said to them, “You will all fall away, for it is written, ‘I will strike the shepherd, and the sheep will be scattered.’ 28 But after I am raised up, I will go before you to Galilee.” 29 Peter said to him, “Even though they all fall away, I will not.” 30 And Jesus said to him, “Truly, I tell you, this very night, before the rooster crows twice, you will deny me three times.” 31 But he said emphatically, “If I must die with you, I will not deny you.” And they all said the same.
Jesus Prays in Gethsemane
32 And they went to a place called Gethsemane. And he said to his disciples,“Sit here while I pray.” 33 And he took with him Peter and James and John, and began to be greatly distressed and troubled. 34 And he said to them, “My soul is very sorrowful, even to death. Remain here and watch.”[d] 35 And going a little farther, he fell on the ground and prayed that, if it were possible, the hour might pass from him. 36 And he said, “Abba, Father, all things are possible for you. Remove this cup from me. Yet not what I will, but what you will.” 37 And he came and found them sleeping, and he said to Peter, “Simon, are you asleep? Could you not watch one hour? 38 Watch and pray that you may notenter into temptation. The spirit indeed is willing, but the flesh is weak.” 39 And again he went away and prayed, saying the same words. 40 And again he came and found them sleeping, for their eyes were very heavy, and they did not know what to answer him. 41 And he came the third time and said to them, “Are you still sleeping and taking your rest? It is enough; the hour has come. The Son of Man is betrayed into the hands of sinners. 42 Rise, let us be going; see, my betrayer is at hand.”
Betrayal and Arrest of Jesus
43 And immediately, while he was still speaking, Judas came, one of the twelve, and with him a crowd with swords and clubs, from the chief priests and the scribes and the elders. 44 Now the betrayer had given them a sign, saying, “The one I will kiss is the man. Seize him and lead him away under guard.” 45 And when he came, he went up to him at once and said, “Rabbi!” And he kissed him. 46 And they laid hands on him and seized him. 47 But one of those who stood by drew his sword and struck the servant[e] of the high priest and cut off his ear. 48 And Jesus said to them, “Have you come out as against a robber, with swords and clubs to capture me? 49 Day after day I was with you in the temple teaching, and you did not seize me. But let the Scriptures be fulfilled.”50 And they all left him and fled.
A Young Man Flees
51 And a young man followed him, with nothing but a linen cloth about his body. And they seized him, 52 but he left the linen cloth and ran away naked.
Jesus Before the Council
53 And they led Jesus to the high priest. And all the chief priests and the elders and the scribes came together. 54 And Peter had followed him at a distance,right into the courtyard of the high priest. And he was sitting with the guards and warming himself at the fire. 55 Now the chief priests and the whole council[f]were seeking testimony against Jesus to put him to death, but they found none. 56 For many bore false witness against him, but their testimony did not agree. 57 And some stood up and bore false witness against him, saying, 58 “We heard him say, ‘I will destroy this temple that is made with hands, and in three days I will build another, not made with hands.’” 59 Yet even about this their testimony did not agree. 60 And the high priest stood up in the midst and asked Jesus, “Have you no answer to make? What is it that these men testify against you?”[g] 61 But he remained silent and made no answer. Again the high priest asked him, “Are you the Christ, the Son of the Blessed?” 62 And Jesus said, “I am, and you will see the Son of Man seated at the right hand of Power, andcoming with the clouds of heaven.” 63 And the high priest tore his garments and said, “What further witnesses do we need? 64 You have heard his blasphemy. What is your decision?” And they all condemned him as deserving death. 65 And some began to spit on him and to cover his face and to strike him, saying to him, “Prophesy!” And the guards received him with blows.
Peter Denies Jesus
66 And as Peter was below in the courtyard, one of the servant girls of the high priest came, 67 and seeing Peter warming himself, she looked at him and said, “You also were with the Nazarene, Jesus.” 68 But he denied it, saying, “I neither know nor understand what you mean.” And he went out into the gateway[h] andthe rooster crowed.[i] 69 And the servant girl saw him and began again to say to the bystanders, “This man is one of them.” 70 But again he denied it. And after a little while the bystanders again said to Peter, “Certainly you are one of them, for you are a Galilean.” 71 But he began to invoke a curse on himself and to swear, “I do not know this man of whom you speak.” 72 And immediately the rooster crowed a second time. And Peter remembered how Jesus had said to him, “Before the rooster crows twice, you will deny me three times.” And he broke down and wept.[j]
Jesus Delivered to Pilate
15 And as soon as it was morning, the chief priests held a consultation with the elders and scribes and the whole council. And they bound Jesus and led him away and delivered him over to Pilate. 2 And Pilate asked him, “Are you the King of the Jews?” And he answered him, “You have said so.” 3 And the chief priests accused him of many things. 4 And Pilate again asked him, “Have you no answer to make? See how many charges they bring against you.” 5 But Jesusmade no further answer, so that Pilate was amazed.
Pilate Delivers Jesus to Be Crucified
6 Now at the feast he used to release for them one prisoner for whom they asked. 7 And among the rebels in prison, who had committed murder in the insurrection, there was a man called Barabbas. 8 And the crowd came up and began to ask Pilate to do as he usually did for them. 9 And he answered them, saying, “Do you want me to release for you the King of the Jews?” 10 For he perceived that it was out of envy that the chief priests had delivered him up.11 But the chief priests stirred up the crowd to have him release for them Barabbas instead. 12 And Pilate again said to them, “Then what shall I do withthe man you call the King of the Jews?” 13 And they cried out again, “Crucify him.” 14 And Pilate said to them, “Why, what evil has he done?” But they shouted all the more, “Crucify him.” 15 So Pilate, wishing to satisfy the crowd, released for them Barabbas, and having scourged[k] Jesus, he delivered him to be crucified.
Jesus Is Mocked
16 And the soldiers led him away inside the palace (that is, the governor's headquarters),[l] and they called together the whole battalion.[m] 17 And they clothed him in a purple cloak, and twisting together a crown of thorns, they put it on him. 18 And they began to salute him, “Hail, King of the Jews!” 19 And they were striking his head with a reed and spitting on him and kneeling down in homage to him. 20 And when they had mocked him, they stripped him of the purple cloak and put his own clothes on him. And they led him out to crucify him.
21 And they compelled a passerby, Simon of Cyrene, who was coming in from the country, the father of Alexander and Rufus, to carry his cross. 22 And they brought him to the place called Golgotha (which means Place of a Skull). 23 And they offered him wine mixed with myrrh, but he did not take it. 24 And they crucified him and divided his garments among them, casting lots for them, to decide what each should take. 25 And it was the third hour[n] when they crucified him. 26 And the inscription of the charge against him read, “The King of the Jews.” 27 And with him they crucified two robbers, one on his right and one on his left.[o] 29 And those who passed by derided him, wagging their heads and saying, “Aha! You who would destroy the temple and rebuild it in three days, 30 save yourself, and come down from the cross!” 31 So also the chief priests with the scribes mocked him to one another, saying, “He saved others;he cannot save himself. 32 Let the Christ, the King of Israel, come down now from the cross that we may see and believe.” Those who were crucified with him also reviled him.
The Death of Jesus
33 And when the sixth hour[p] had come, there was darkness over the whole land until the ninth hour.[q] 34 And at the ninth hour Jesus cried with a loud voice, “Eloi, Eloi, lema sabachthani?” which means, “My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?” 35 And some of the bystanders hearing it said, “Behold, he is calling Elijah.” 36 And someone ran and filled a sponge with sour wine, put it on a reed and gave it to him to drink, saying, “Wait, let us see whether Elijah will come to take him down.” 37 And Jesus uttered a loud cry and breathed his last. 38 And the curtain of the temple was torn in two, from top to bottom.39 And when the centurion, who stood facing him, saw that in this way he[r]breathed his last, he said, “Truly this man was the Son[s] of God!”
40 There were also women looking on from a distance, among whom were Mary Magdalene, and Mary the mother of James the younger and of Joses, andSalome. 41 When he was in Galilee, they followed him and ministered to him, and there were also many other women who came up with him to Jerusalem.
Jesus Is Buried
42 And when evening had come, since it was the day of Preparation, that is, the day before the Sabbath, 43 Joseph of Arimathea, a respected member of the council, who was also himself looking for the kingdom of God, took courage and went to Pilate and asked for the body of Jesus. 44 Pilate was surprised to hear that he should have already died.[t] And summoning the centurion, he asked him whether he was already dead. 45 And when he learned from the centurion that he was dead, he granted the corpse to Joseph. 46 And Joseph[u] bought a linen shroud, and taking him down, wrapped him in the linen shroud and laid him in a tomb that had been cut out of the rock. And he rolled a stone against the entrance of the tomb. 47 Mary Magdalene and Mary the mother of Joses saw where he was laid.
Isaiah 50:4-9 English Standard Version (ESV)
4 The Lord God has given me
the tongue of those who are taught,
that I may know how to sustain with a word
him who is weary.
Morning by morning he awakens;
he awakens my ear
to hear as those who are taught.
5 The Lord God has opened my ear,
and I was not rebellious;
I turned not backward.
6 I gave my back to those who strike,
and my cheeks to those who pull out the beard;
I hid not my face
from disgrace and spitting.
7 But the Lord God helps me;
therefore I have not been disgraced;
therefore I have set my face like a flint,
and I know that I shall not be put to shame.
8 He who vindicates me is near.
Who will contend with me?
Let us stand up together.
Who is my adversary?
Let him come near to me.
9 Behold, the Lord God helps me;
who will declare me guilty?
Behold, all of them will wear out like a garment;
the moth will eat them up.
CALL TO WORSHIP (in unison)
Oh give thanks to the Lord; call upon his name;
make known his deeds among the peoples!
Sing to him, sing praises to him;
tell of all his wondrous works!
Glory in his holy name;
let the hearts of those who seek the Lord rejoice!
Opening Prayer and The Lord’s Prayer
Mighty God of mercy, we thank you for the
resurrection dawn bringing the glory of our
risen Lord who makes every day new.
Especially we thank you for
the beauty of your creation ...
the new creation in Christ and all gifts of
healing and forgiveness…
the sustaining love of family and friends ...
the fellowship of faith in your church ...
Merciful God of might, renew this weary world,
heal the hurts of all your children, and
bring about your peace for all in Christ
Jesus, the living Lord. Especially we pray for
those who govern nations of the world ...
the people of countries where there is strife or warfare ...
all who work for peace and international harmony...
the church of Jesus Christ in every land....
Shall we now take a moment to silently pray our own personal prayers
and then conclude with “The Lord's Prayer”
O God, we gather to thank you
· the easy conversation between old friends
· the quick smile of a child
· the warm look of hello from across the room
· the caring phone call about our illness
· the cards sent which say, "Just thinking of you"
· the hymn book passed along
· the little things that say we matter.
All this, O God, you planned in your compassion.
Your Church is special to us.
Within it are people with so many different gifts.
Thank you God for providing us with this place of belonging.
In response we bring our own gifts to use in your Church,
and as we do, we want to say how grateful we are to you
that you have given us such friends.
Out of gratitude we give,
for you have given us so much.
Missing the Church Service
Father Lewis woke up Sunday morning and realizing it was an exceptionally beautiful and sunny early spring day, decided he just had to play golf.
So... he told the Associate Pastor that he was feeling sick and persuaded him to say Mass for him that day.
As soon as the Associate Pastor left the room, Father Lewis headed out of town to a golf course about forty miles away.
This way he knew he wouldn't accidentally meet anyone he knew from his parish. Setting up on the first tee, he was alone. After all, it was Sunday morning and
everyone else was in church!
At about this time, Saint Peter leaned over to the Lord while looking down from the heavens and exclaimed,"You're not going to let him get away with this, are you?"
The Lord sighed, and said, "No, I guess not."
Just then Father Lewis hit the ball and it shot straight towards the pin, dropping just short of it, rolled up and fell into the hole.
IT WAS A 430 YARD HOLE-in-ONE!
St. Peter was astonished. He looked at the Lord and asked, "Why did you let him do that?"
The Lord smiled and replied, "Who’s he going to tell?"
Treasures in Jars of Clay by Kevin Harvey
It is the expressed purpose of God for us that we be with Him in Heaven fully clothed, eternal beings. That this death we live in may be swallowed up by life. And it is our express purpose to be found willing to please our heavenly Father.
Cor. Ch 5 vs 1-10
2 Corinthians 5:1-10
New American Standard Bible (NASB)
The Temporal and Eternal
5 For we know that if the earthly tent which is our house is torn down, we have a building from God, a house not made with hands, eternal in the heavens. 2 For indeed in this house we groan, longing to be clothed with our dwelling from heaven, 3 inasmuch as we, having put it on, will not be found naked. 4 For indeed while we are in this tent, we groan, being burdened, because we do not want to be unclothed but to be clothed, so that what ismortal will be swallowed up by life. 5 Now He who prepared us for this very purpose is God, who gave to us the Spirit as a pledge.
6 Therefore, being always of good courage, and knowing that while we are at home in the body we are absent from the Lord-- 7 for we walk by faith, not by sight-- 8 we are of good courage, I say, and prefer rather to be absent from the body and to be at home with the Lord. 9 Therefore we also have as our ambition, whether at home or absent, to be pleasing to Him. 10 For we must all appear before the judgment seat of Christ, so that each one may be recompensed for his deeds in the body, according to what he has done, whether good or bad.
comments: on verse 1. This tent Paul refers to is our present body. It is temporary and weak. And like a tent, it sometimes leaks. Paul - tent maker
But on the other hand, in Heaven we have a building from God. A heavenly house, eternal, and this new building which is our glorified body will have a seal on it, built by God, built to last.
Meanwhile we groan, question, But why? Is it because we want to die and go to heaven this minute? I dont think so. I think it is something deeper. It's a feeling, or a groaning that somethings just not right. On one hand we know the truth that when a person receives Christ there is a void filled that only God can fill.
Marriage can't do it, friends, family, sex, drugs, rock and roll, wealth, none of these can fill that void. Only God can!! But this is something different than emptiness because this message is for believers. Why then this groaning?
For Paul says in vs 8 in Chap 4 "We are hard pressed on every side, yet not crushed, we are perplexed, but not in dispair, persecuted, but not forsaken, stuck down but not destroyed"
This groaning or emptiness, I believe has something to do with the very nature of this life. You have heard it said, "It's not fair!!" ....etc etc, but there is more to life than this life.
Paul says in vs 7 of Chap 4 "But we have this treasure in earthen vessels, that the excellence of the power may be of God and not us"
And the treasure is this: The truth of the Gospel. It is eternal life. The jar of clay or earthen vessels is Pauls temporary body, is our temporary body also. Here we see a paradox. Immortality housed in a mortal body. People in those times often put their valuables in clay jars to hide them, and Paul used this analogy to explain a principal.
Comment: vs 3 Here the analogy is when we are clothed, we will not be found naked; all that means is that we will have glorified bodies. We will not be ghosts, or spirits floating around.
"When Christ comes, who is our life, we will be like Him at the ressurection"
vs 4 Again we see groaning, and a burden Mortality swallowed up by life. Isn't that a beautiful picture? It's the opposite of what the world sees. Here we see life being swallowed up by death, but Paul says it's the other way around. And more than that, in fact God made us for this very purpose
vs 5 And we have the Holy Spirit as a down payment, or as a guarantee. God made you and I to live with Him. To have everlasting fellowship with His Son. He created you, and wants you to love him out of your own free will. God gives to the believer the Holy Spirit to help us to understand all this, and again the Holy Spirit is our garauntee of citizenship in Heaven.
vs.6 & 7 Therefore we are confident, assured, more than willing, whether here or there, even though we are away from the Lord in a sense, it doesn't matter. We walk by faith, not by sight. We are confident, and pleased to be fully clothed with our glorified bodies, with him. So what am I going to do? What is my purpose right now? It is nothing more than to please God. It is our goal to please Him because of what He has done. Would you like to make it your goal to please Him?
How do we please Him?
A) Greet Him every morning when you rise up in prayer and thanksgiving; talk to him during the day; and when you go to bed at night.
B) Read His Word: study it to know who this God who we serve is.
C) Love others as yourself. Notice its the ten commandments summed up in two, which is love the Lord your God with all your heart, mind, and strength,
which is a vertical relationship, and love others as yourself, which is horizontal relationship with others.
The scriptures says we are going to give an account for this life. For the believer it's not to see if we get into Heaven or not; it is for rewards or loss of rewards, therefore let's keep that in mind and remember the God who we serve, and learn to be pleasing to Him. Our challenge then, this morning is nothing more than this; to love God, and love others. If you are a believer, you have a treasure inside of you; that treasure is the Holy Spirit; it is eternal life; right now it's housed in an earthen vessel, but one day it will be revealed. That is your true self. I am glad that that is our destiny and I am challenged by my purpose which is to please Him.
End of Service Prayer
God we thank You for meeting us here tonight, and for delivering Your Word through Kevin. May each soul in this place have been touched through the songs and the preaching, and may each take to heart the Word that came forth.
We pray that those seeking an answer received it, and that those who needed a special touch were granted that touch. Bless each of us and keep us safe until we are able to gather together again.
In Jesus' name we pray.
Now go into the world with confidence, trusting that Christ is walking with you. Amen -
CALL & RESPONSE: (based on Psalm 89)
ONE: Welcome this day to the fourth step on our Lenten journey.
ALL: We come with great hope and expectation as we walk the way of Christ.
ONE: Today's journey will demand a lot from us. ALL: Lord, make us ready to offer ourselves to you.
ONE: Come, let us begin again the wondrous excursion. ALL: Let us place our lives in God's abiding love.
WELCOME: Today is the fourth Sunday in Lent, and just like the third Sunday of Advent, this Sunday is a break in an otherwise penitential season. It marks the halfway point in our Lenten preparation for Easter. So today we rejoice in anticipation of Easter. We look ahead with joyful hope to what awaits!
Our service this morning will be a little different. We are going to intersperse our readings and hymns with humour, to lighten up and to enjoy God's goodness, as we move with Jesus towards the cross.
PRAYER OF INVOCATION: Loving God, as we share good humour this morning,
bring Your healing power to bear upon our lives. Help us to hear Your Word in both the stories that are told and the scriptures that are read. Touch us by Your Spirit as we rejoice with the gifts You have given us and offer our more solemn prayers to You. Dispel any darkness that may be afflicting us. We ask this in the name of Jesus. Amen.
PRAYER & THE LORD'S PRAYER:
Loving God, we thank you for the gift of laughter and for the gift of love. Bless now our study and our worship, our practice and our play. We ask it in the name of Jesus, and in the words He taught us:
Our Father, who art in heaven, hallowed be Thy name. Thy kingdom come, Thy will be done, on earth as it is in heaven. Give us this day our daily bread, and forgive us our debts, as we forgive our debtors. Lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from evil. For Thine is the kingdom, the power and the glory, forever and ever. Amen.
HUMOUR INTERLUDE: Each Sunday morning as they began class, the fifth graders would line up and recite their one section of the creed in the order that it is written. That teaching method worked well for about four months. Then one Sunday a problem arose. Class began the same way. The first girl as usual recited here line flawlessly: "I believe in God the Father Almighty, maker of heaven and earth." The second, a boy, stood up and said his sentence: "I believe in Jesus Christ, his only Son, our Lord." But then silence descended over the class. Finally, one girl, who felt she had discovered the problem, stood up and loudly said, "I'm sorry, sir, but the boy who believes in the Holy Ghost is absent today!"
The Offertory Prayer:
Together, as a congregation, what we offer You here in love becomes more, not simply added together, but somehow multiplied in its usefulness. We ask you to bless our gifts and pray that with the addition of Your blessing, there will be enough for all. Amen.
ANTHEM: "Give To Us Laughter"
Give to us laughter, O Source of our life.
Laughter can banish so much of our strife.
Laughter and love give us wholeness and health.
Laughter and love are the coin of true wealth.
Give to us laughter as sign of deep joy;
let us in laughing find Christian employ,
joining with stars and with bright northern lights,
laughing and praising and sharing delights.
Why do we worry that we will lose face?
Why act like king for the whole human race?
Often in family, and often with friend,
laughing at pride causes anguish to end.
Even in sorrow and hours of grief,
laughter with tears brings most healing relief.
God, give us laughter, and God, give us peace,
joys of your promise among us increase.
Words Copyright © 1974 by Walter Farquharson
HUMOUR INTERLUDE: A young woman was soaking up the sun's rays on a Florida beach when a little boy in his swimming trunks, carrying a towel, came up to her and asked, "Do you believe in God?" She was surprised by the question but replied, "Why yes, I do." The he asked her, "Do you go to church every Sunday?" Again her answer was, "Yes." Then he asked, "Do you read your Bible and pray every day?" Again she said, "Yes." But by now her curiosity was very much aroused. At last the boy sighed and said with obvious relief, "Will you hold my quarter while I go in swimming?"
HUMOUR INTERLUDE: After the baptism of his baby brother in church one Sunday, little Johnny sobbed all the way home in the back seat of the car. His father asked him three times what was wrong. Finally, the boy replied, "That minister said he wanted us brought up in a Christian home, and I want to stay with you guys!" Father got the message, and they began to go to church regularly. Needless to say, the family had a bit a catching up to do. One da3, the Sunday School teacher asked Johnny, "Now, Johnny, tell me, do you say prayers before eating?" "No, ma'am," little Johnny replied. "I don't have to. My Mom is a good cook."
New International Version (NIV)
Jesus Heals a Man Born Blind
9 As he went along, he saw a man blind from birth. 2 His disciples asked him, “Rabbi, who sinned, this man or his parents, that he was born blind?”
3 “Neither this man nor his parents sinned,” said Jesus, “but this happened so that the works of God might be displayed in him. 4 As long as it is day, we must do the works of him who sent me. Night is coming, when no one can work.5 While I am in the world, I am the light of the world.”
6 After saying this, he spit on the ground, made some mud with the saliva, and put it on the man’s eyes. 7 “Go,” he told him, “wash in the Pool of Siloam” (this word means “Sent”). So the man went and washed, and came home seeing.
8 His neighbors and those who had formerly seen him begging asked, “Isn’t this the same man who used to sit and beg?” 9 Some claimed that he was.
Others said, “No, he only looks like him.”
But he himself insisted, “I am the man.”
10 “How then were your eyes opened?” they asked.
11 He replied, “The man they call Jesus made some mud and put it on my eyes. He told me to go to Siloam and wash. So I went and washed, and then I could see.”
12 “Where is this man?” they asked him.
“I don’t know,” he said.
New International Version (NIV)Holy Bible, New International Version®, NIV® Copyright © 1973, 1978, 1984, 2011 by Biblica, Inc.®Used by permission. All rights reserved worldwide.
MUSICAL INTERLUDE: "There Are None So Blind" Nancy & Gard
DRAMA INTERLUDE: "Observing Lint?"
(Need I lint roller & 1 Bible)
1. (enters with lint stop, stopping to roll on peoples' clothes, pews, everything she sees, stopping each time to carefully examine the roller)
2. What are you doing?
1. Observing lint.
2. I see that, but why?
1. (continues rolling) It's that of year when Christians observe Lint for 40 days before Easter.
2. Oh, I see. I'm glad you're trying to be faithful, but you have it all wrong! You're thinking of Lent, L-E-N-T, not lint, L-I-N-T. Lent is the 40 days leading up to Easter when Jesus' followers remember that he was tempted by Satan in the desert for 40 days. And during that time, Jesus prayed and fasted to defeat Satan. That's why Christians give up something they enjoy doing or eating as a way to remember that Jesus suffered on the cross for sake, He gave His life for ours.
1. So that's why people give up something for Lent! Maybe I'll give up this lint roller!
2. Okaaaay then....I think we need to read God's Word now. (Read Romans 12 1)
This verse reminds us to give our lives to Jesus throughout the year, not just during. This is pleasing to God and the way we worship Him. So, rather than give up something for Lent, maybe we should think about what we can give to Jesus.
1. Hey, I just thought of something! This lint roller really can teach us something about Easter!
2. (doubtful) Do Tell!
1. The lint roller removes lint from my clothes and this reminds me that Jesus removed my sin when He died on the cross!
2. You're right! The season of Lent can help us remember what Jesus did for us focus our attention on obeying and serving God throughout the year!
1. You're a good friend. Thanks for explaining Lent to me. Let's go to the library and read to the kids.
New International Version (NIV)
The Pharisees Investigate the Healing
13 They brought to the Pharisees the man who had been blind. 14 Now the day on which Jesus had made the mud and opened the man’s eyes was a Sabbath.15 Therefore the Pharisees also asked him how he had received his sight. “He put mud on my eyes,” the man replied, “and I washed, and now I see.”
16 Some of the Pharisees said, “This man is not from God, for he does not keep the Sabbath.”
But others asked, “How can a sinner perform such signs?” So they were divided.
17 Then they turned again to the blind man, “What have you to say about him? It was your eyes he opened.”
The man replied, “He is a prophet.”
18 They still did not believe that he had been blind and had received his sight until they sent for the man’s parents. 19 “Is this your son?” they asked. “Is this the one you say was born blind? How is it that now he can see?”
20 “We know he is our son,” the parents answered, “and we know he was born blind. 21 But how he can see now, or who opened his eyes, we don’t know. Ask him. He is of age; he will speak for himself.” 22 His parents said this because they were afraid of the Jewish leaders, who already had decided that anyone who acknowledged that Jesus was the Messiah would be put out of the synagogue. 23 That was why his parents said, “He is of age; ask him.”
New International Version (NIV)
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DRAMA INTERLUDE: "Going On The Journey"
Going On The Journey
1. I love going on trips. The excitement! The exotic places! I can hardly wait to begin!
2. Where are you going?
1. Well, I'm not sure. But I'm travelling with Jesus.
2. Where is Jesus going?
1. I'm not exactly sure, but I think to some towns along the lakeshore and in the countryside. You know, places like this.
2. What's going to happen?
1. Again, I'm not really sure, but I guess the people will be glad to see us and Jesus will probably heal a lot of them.
2. What will you be doing?
1. Oh, I don't know. I hadn't really given it much thought.
2. Well, what do you expect will happen?
1. Like I said, healing and greetings. It should be nice.
2. Maybe you will be able to help some of the people with special needs.
1. Well, I don't have any training in that area. I could learn, I suppose.
2. Maybe you could work with the lepers, those people who are called unclean.
1. I'm not sure Jesus would want me to do that.
2. Maybe you should just trust in Jesus to give you guidance and strength.
1. I guess I'm not as ready as I thought. I expected this was going to be easy.
The journey with Jesus can be difficult at times, but remember that God has promised to be with you. You will be given all the gifts you need to serve God faithfully and effectively. Do not fear.
John 9:24-41New International Version (NIV)
24 A second time they summoned the man who had been blind. “Give glory to God by telling the truth,” they said. “We know this man is a sinner.”
25 He replied, “Whether he is a sinner or not, I don’t know. One thing I do know. I was blind but now I see!”
26 Then they asked him, “What did he do to you? How did he open your eyes?”
27 He answered, “I have told you already and you did not listen. Why do you want to hear it again? Do you want to become his disciples too?”
28 Then they hurled insults at him and said, “You are this fellow’s disciple! We are disciples of Moses! 29 We know that God spoke to Moses, but as for this fellow, we don’t even know where he comes from.”
30 The man answered, “Now that is remarkable! You don’t know where he comes from, yet he opened my eyes. 31 We know that God does not listen to sinners. He listens to the godly person who does his will. 32 Nobody has ever heard of opening the eyes of a man born blind. 33 If this man were not from God, he could do nothing.”
34 To this they replied, “You were steeped in sin at birth; how dare you lecture us!” And they threw him out.
35 Jesus heard that they had thrown him out, and when he found him, he said, “Do you believe in the Son of Man?”
36 “Who is he, sir?” the man asked. “Tell me so that I may believe in him.”
37 Jesus said, “You have now seen him; in fact, he is the one speaking with you.”
38 Then the man said, “Lord, I believe,” and he worshiped him.
39 Jesus said,[a] “For judgment I have come into this world, so that the blind will see and those who see will become blind.”
40 Some Pharisees who were with him heard him say this and asked, “What? Are we blind too?”
41 Jesus said, “If you were blind, you would not be guilty of sin; but now that you claim you can see, your guilt remains.
HUMOUR INTERLUDE: There were two cats, one was named "one two three" and the other was named "un deux trois." Both cats came to a river and had to cross it. Which one got across first?............................. Ready?..... Sure?....... "One two three" got over first because
"un deux trois quatre cing."
MEDITATION: None So Blind
None So Blind
I think another Humour Interlude is in order before I begin the meditation.
Just before the children went to Sunday School, the minister called them all to the front of the church for children's time. After they had seated themselves, he announced he was going to talk about frogs. He asked the group, "When I say `frog' what's the first thing that comes to your mind?"
Promptly a child answered, "God."
Surprised, the minister asked with obvious puzzlement, "Why do you think about God when I say 'frog'?"
The child replied, "Because I know you didn't bring us up here to talk about frogs."
Alright, now the kids are in Sunday School. The teacher was teaching about how God created everything, including human beings. Little Tommy, a kindergartner, seemed especially intent when he heard how Eve had been created out of one of Adam's ribs.
Later in the week his mother noticed that he was lying down as though he were ill. She asked, "Tommy, what's the matter?"
Tommy responded, "I have a pain in my side. I think I'm gonna have a
What are we to make of the story of the blind man? On the surface, it is about the healing of a man who was blind from birth. The underlying story is about the blindness of those around him and most especially the blindness of the religious leaders. But what is really being discussed is spiritual blindness and what can be done to cure it.
Our blind spots are major obstacles, like road blocks we encounter along our spiritual journey. Don't worry, there are a couple of ways to overcome them. We need to acknowledge that we are blind — that's the first step. Unless we know that we have blind spots, the next step of healing can't begin. Healing may not come right away. The blind man in this morning's story took a long time before he believed Jesus was the Son of Man.
We need to remember the old proverb, "There are none so blind as those who will not see." The Pharisees in the story are such people. They were so committed to their spiritual blindness that they were prepared to call good evil. That kind of blindness is dangerous. Jesus warned us against "the blind leading the blind." Ultimately, the Pharisees were so committed to their particular form of spiritual blindness that they dismissed everyone who didn't follow their view.
Remember how the Pharisees sneered at the blind man, saying, "You are a disciple of His, but we are disciples of Moses. We know that God spoke to Moses; but as for this fellow, we don't know where He came from." And the blind man answered, "There is something funny about this! You don't know where He came from, and yet He has made me able to see! If this man were not from God. He could do nothing!"
The Pharisees were enraged. "You were born in utter sin and are you trying to teach us?" Then they shut him out of the synagogue. Jesus found him and said, "Do you believe in the Son of God?" The blind man replied, "Who is He, sir? Tell me that I may believe in Him." "It is He who s now talking to you," said Jesus. "I believe, Sir!" exclaimed the man. And he fell on his knees before Jesus and worshipped Him.
For those of us who have committed ourselves to the Christian faith, it is to Jesus that we must go to heal our blindness. Four of our hymns today were written by a lady by the name of Fanny Crosby. Fanny could not see. She developed an eye infection at 6 weeks old. Her family doctor was out of town and a man posing as a doctor gave her the wrong treatment. Within a few days she was totally blind.
Fanny never let her affliction get the better of her. When she was only 8 years old, she wrote this poem:
Oh, what a happy child I am, Although I can not see.
I am resolved that in this world, Contented I will be.
How many blessings I enjoy That other people don't,
To weep and sigh
Because I'm blind,
I cannot and I won't.
Instead of being bitter and feeling sorry for herself, instead of blaming the doctor for his "sin" against her and dwelling in darkness all her days, Fanny used the gifts that God had given her to write over 8,000 hymns and poems to praise and glorify God.
Helen Keller, who lost her sight at the age of 19 months, was once asked if blindness was the worst thing that could happen to a person. Her answer was direct; "No, the worst thing is not to lose your sight, but to lose your vision."
Bruce Prewer, an Australian minister, put it this way about man born blind:
"Some people have excellent eyesight, but do not see further than their noses. Some have good vision yet choose to see only a little of the way, the truth and the life. And some have no physical sight, yet who see brilliantly along the path of Christ."
May the story of the healing of the man born blind inspire us to go to Christ and to allow his teaching to heal our blindness and let us walk in the light and bring that vision to others.
Jesus came that we might see clearly. Are you ready to believe that?
BENEDICTION & CHORAL AMEN:
May God the Father prepare your journey, Jesus the Son guide your footsteps, the Spirit of Life strengthen your body and the Three in One watch over you on every road that you may follow.
If you can’t fly…
The idea for my message today first came to me from a Facebook friend, Fr. Philip Chircop, a Jesuit priest who does retreats which I attend once a year, and who scours books and the internet for spiritual messages of all kinds. He posted a song by David Roth, who is a balladeer living in Cape Cod and travelling the world. David Roth in turn borrowed the words from Martin Luther King…
“If you can't fly then run, if you can't run then walk, if you can't walk then crawl, but whatever you do you have to keep moving forward.”
By these words, Martin Luther King energized the entire civil rights movement and, at the same time, joined the aspirations of all mankind together with the Christian message of doing for others. How do the two come together? How does a human aspiration of victory merge with the Christian message of love? Well, I’m going to take a winding path to show – or attempt to show - that it is possible, and not only possible, but very desirable.
First, let me talk to you briefly about a carpenter’s son by the name of Yeshua, or as we know him, Jesus of Nazareth. When traditional religious leaders talk about Jesus today, it is invariably in the sense of his divinity as Son of God, the second person of the Trinity. He came to earth to suffer and die for our sins, and to be born again on the third day after his crucifixion. In fact, as we enter the third week of Lent, this is exactly the Christian message unfolding and reminding us as it does every year at this time. We know this story so well, it is burned into our psyches from childhood, because it is the foundation of our Christian faith. So, it is right that we always meditate, pray, and worship on it.
But what we often forget or overlook in our eagerness to praise Yeshua as our Lord and son of God, is that he was in equal parts both divine and a completely human being, with all the tics and warts that all humans possess. If he were not, if he had been solely divine, then I’m not sure our ability to relate to him would be quite the same, or his sacrifice quite as personal. After all, it’s one thing for God to play at suffering and dying, pretending to go through the whole ordeal. We lowly humans might say, “Oh, yeah, but he is God, after all, so what’s the big deal?” It would be the same as watching a movie. No matter how well it’s done, you know the guy on the cross is not actually going to die. No, it’s quite another thing to have God sacrifice his son as a complete human being. Now, we can feel his suffering, we can feel the burning of the whiplash, we can sense the pounding of the hammer against the nails. We can hear his piercing cry, “My God, my God. Why have you forgotten me?”
No, Yeshua or Jesus was…totally…fallibly…human. And I would suggest to you that he did not begin his ministry with his act all together. No, the task that he would undertake was something that evolved through trial and obstacles, and time. Certainly, his aptitude and desire were there. We find him at age 12 discussing points of religious law with elders in the synagogue.
But in his book, Rabbi Jesus, the writer Bruce Chilton makes an interesting point or two. We, as the heirs of Jesus’ teachings, assume he was born with all his spiritual tools already in place, since he was the son of God. But the Jews of his day certainly didn’t believe this. In fact, they would question him as to how he got the nerve to teach at all. Wasn’t he Joseph the carpenter’s son? Wasn’t he from Nazareth? And even more damning, did anything good ever come out of Nazareth? You know. Big town/small town stuff.
Bruce Chilton even goes one further. To the Jews of his day, he claims, Jesus was not born of Mary as an immaculate conception. No, Jesus was an illegitimate child, a mamzer, that Joseph claimed and accepted as his own because Mary was his betrothed, and Joseph was an honourable man. But, the tongues would wag and the insinuations would follow him around. Not only that. If he were indeed regarded as illegitimate, a huge stigma in those days, he would not be permitted to take part in synagogue rituals or teachings. According to Bruce Chilton, this would form the foundation of Jesus’s disdain for religious authorities of his day. But since there was no fast communications in at that time, it seems that what took place in Nazareth, would stay in Nazareth, and Jesus could take his message on the road.
All this, of course, is to a degree speculation, but speculation based on the known traditions and prejudices of the times. What we do know for certain is that Jesus’ ministry would not begin until he was in his thirties and even then it was done in baby steps. When he walked down to the Jordan to be baptized by John, he walked that lonesome valley all by himself. He had no followers. In fact, he was his cousin, John the Baptist’s follower, and he came to be baptized by him that day. After that, he walked his lonely self into the desert for 40 days and nights, meditating on the path he must take, crystallizing his goal to bring the good news to all the people according to the prophecies of the Old Testament prophets. It all took time, study, prayer, and resolve. He was 30 before he was finally ready.
Even then, his journey began at a snail’s pace, a crawl, you might say. At the site of his first miracle, he still didn’t seem quite sure of himself. When his mother said to him, “There is no more wine,” he asked her, “What would you have me do, woman, my time is not yet come.” In other words, he said he wasn’t ready. He was unsure of himself, like any young man before he is tested. He may have suffered from a lack of confidence, a totally human weakness. And what did his mother do? She did like any loving mother might. She looked him right in the eye, turned to a servant and said, ”Do whatever he asks of you.” In other words, “Go ahead, son, you can do it. I know you can.” And do it he did. And he kept doing it, day after day, selecting his disciples, mostly with great skill and leadership. He messed up with the one, proving once again that he was human and could make mistakes. But he kept his goal in sight. He kept moving forward.
And that was Martin Luther King’s message, “If you can’t fly, whatever you do, keep moving forward.” As an ordinary person, I have to ask, “What’s the point? What am I hoping to accomplish?” Move forward to what? Obviously, that calls for having a clear goal. To the civil rights movement, it wasn’t difficult to come up with a goal. End segregation. End colour barriers and prejudice. Let us, for God’s sake, see each other as brothers and sisters, equal in all respects.
Is Jesus’ message any different? “Truly, I tell you, whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers and sisters of mine, you did for me.” As Christians, this becomes our goal, our destiny. This is how we merge our desire to move forward with a clearly defined goal, to love one another by baby steps first, and perhaps by giant strides that eventually take flight. But the single most important thing is to keep moving forward, and to never stop.
At first, Jesus didn’t seem to know how to go about recruiting followers. As you heard in the gospel reading, John said to Andrew and another, “Behold, the lamb of God’” when Jesus walked by. They had to follow him and prod him about where he was staying. They went with him and talked with him at length. Andrew, the first apostle, then went to his brother, Simon, and told him they had found the Messiah. Now, remember, that in those days the Messiah that Jews were waiting for was not just a holy man. He was to be another David, a conquerour and defender of the faith. It took them quite some time to realize who this Yeshua, this Jesus, really was.
We admire and worship Christ because he was God-become-man with the single purpose of showing us the way to become one with God, his Father.. He said, there is no greater love than this, than that a person give up his life to save his friend. And his example, his death on the cross without fighting the authorities who arrested him, was proof that he lived according to his teachings.
Isn’t this what Mother Theresa did every day of her life with the untouchables of India? This was a woman who was torn with doubts throughout her life, as she makes plain in her biography. Yet she kept moving forward, sacrificing her life consistently, with greater and greater numbers until she took flight in sainthood, to the approval of the whole world
Now, I am no Mother Theresa, even if I were a woman. But I am certain of one thing. God’s greatest gift to me is that of unselfish love. Isn’t that what we all cherish, to be loved? Isn’t that what others would like in return from us, that we love them? Isn’t it the one thing we all agree on no matter who we are, no matter our colour, creed, language, or gender? Isn’t it also the one thing we find most difficult or puzzling to do?
Yes, we all walk alone in making tough decisions about our faith. But I bet all of you who have helped another out in some way feel good about it. You feel good about it because you have taken one step closer to a union with God. And that good feeling gained by service to others is the love of God shining on you. It’s not easy, as it wasn’t easy for Jesus. It wasn’t easy for Mother Theresa, or for Gandhi, or for Martin Luther King. It wasn’t easy for the apostles. All but one died a martyr’s death by sacrificing themselves for Christ and his message. They failed him time and again at first. They denied him. They melted into the background when he was being tried and finally crucified. Despite that, they came through in the end. Doubting Thomas had the blinds removed when Jesus told him to touch his wounds. He fell to his knees and could only utter, “My Lord and my God!” It was at that instant Thomas realized who this Jesus was. This was when Jesus’s humanity merged with his divinity and Thomas saw the face of God. Jesus placed his confidence in the right people. They moved forward from there conquering the world with faith, hope and love.
I’m not suggesting we all become martyrs. I have no wish to go that route myself. But I am saying we all can do something no matter how small to harness the God-given seed of love that we are all born with. It’s amazing what a ripple effect that can have. Start with a smile and shake a neighbour’s hand. Give a person a lift who may need one. Forgive someone you hold a grudge against. Let your resentment go. Overcome your doubts and shrug off your shyness or apathy. “Faint heart never won fair lady.” Faint heart never erased mistakes either. And don’t bother with ‘what’s in it for me.’ That’s a one-way road to nothing. As JFK so famously said, “Ask not what your country can do for you. Ask what you can do for your country…or your family…or your church…or your neighbor.
One of the most repeated phrases in the bible is, “Have no fear.” Each person has to make his way through the trials of life on his own. But God is always there to help lift you higher. Like the words of a song, “Love has lifted me higher than I have ever been lifted before.” You can eventually overcome your fear if you just keep moving forward.
My mother-in-law, Agnes McWhinnie, was a total giver. She gave to her family and friends consistently in small ways. She would read The Gazette with interest and a keen eye. She kept track of everyone’s birthday on an eternal calendar and when the time came she would send a card and maybe a small gift or a clipping from an article she felt would interest that person. This is the way I found out some years ago that the high school and college I attended, Loyola of Montreal, were having their 100-year anniversary. We were living in Kitchener then and they had lost track of me. But Agnes’s caring note allowed me to take part in the centennial and to meet old friends.
She was never that keen on religion itself, but she always gave to her church because she felt it was the right thing to do. When we moved to Huntingdon 4 years ago, she decided to come to church with us, more I sense, because she felt we wanted her to and as support to us. When she was close to dying she said to me, “What do you suppose happens when you die?” It’s not a question I ever expected from her. It came right out of the blue. “What do you suppose happens when you die?”
I said to her, “I believe when you die, you come face to face with God. You become one with him in the most unexplainably beautiful mystery in all existence.
”She looked at me with shining eyes, and simply said, “I hope so.”
She may not have been totally convinced, but she was ready to accept the possibility. I have no doubt that for such a woman her hopes were totally fulfilled. I have no doubt that in death, her soul took flight right into the arms of God. I have no doubt that when we love our neighbor as ourselves, we book a flight on that same journey.
In the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost.
THE ESSENCE OF CHRISTIANITY March 2015
Text: Luke 14:25-33
Have you ever wished you had not decided to spend a week at cub camp, after all you promised, so you’ll go. But, now you wondered if you'd made the right decision.
The night before, you break into a cold wet --sleeping in a tent with 12 cubs -- it rains—tent leaks, your clothes get wet -- and you’ve been assigned to teach canoeing-- you don’t know a paddle from an oar-- it's a nightmare.
You go and much to your surprise—“you have a wonderful week.”
Well, that's how I felt when I read the gospel lesson for this morning-- my first thoughts were maybe I should take another Scripture-- something’s wrong this is not the Jesus I know. Panic sets in-- but as I studied the passage I start to understand it. I’d like to share with you is morning, the message I gleamed from this scripture lesson from Luke.
I call this message “The Essence of Christianity.”
And the very first question most ask is—“How do we become followers of JESUS?”
In our text, Jesus lists three requirements for being a follower.
1-hate your family 2—carry the cross 3—give up all possessions
Are we still game to be a follower--if that’s what it takes?
Jesus wanted to know if we’re serious or just having fun socializing with friends; joining the crowd.
So he wanted to wake them and us up—to realize what’s in store—and to be prepared to face the cost.
And so on the first week of our Lenten journey it seems appropriate to explore the scripture for some answers,
In Luke we catch up with a large crowd following Jesus to Jerusalem; everyone is wondering; why is he going to the big city? What’s going to happen in Jerusalem?
SOME THINK IT’S A CALL TO PROTEST! I’m sure some are imagining a big clash: poor peasants versus the rich elite-- Jews versus Romans-- Jesus against the establishment. The air is filled with anticipation. Most people say, “Let’s join the PROTEST and see how it ends.”
THERE ARE THOSE SAY IT’S A PARADE! Look they are having a good time laughing and shouting, The crowds swells, let’s just follow the crowd.
Suddenly, the Parade comes to an abrupt halt, Jesus senses that most of the crowd are tagging along out of curiosity, Jesus calls out:
“Whoever comes to me and does not hate father and mother, wife and children, brothers and sisters, yes, and even life itself, cannot be my disciple. Are we hearing correctly?
(REPEAT VERSE) Truly this is not what Jesus means?
Some religions seem to interpret this verse to discourage their members from too much contact with members of other faiths--
They are discouraged them from celebrating family birthdays or take part in Christmas celebrations with their family. Surely this couldn’t be what Jesus meant—when he said hate your family??
If we turn to “The Living New Bible” it makes it a clearer:
Anyone who wants to be my follower must LOVE GOD more than their father, mother, wife, children, brother or sisters—yes even more than ones own life. Must LOVE GOD MORE...
Why would Jesus say this to the crowd?
In those days, “Family” was the most important structure in their culture. Every man was known as the son of his father. A mother was known as the wife of her husband. A woman was known as the daughter of her father until she married and became known as wife of her husband.
To Jesus this tight knit MALE DOMINATED family structure held the people in bondage; especially the women, they could never have God as head of the human family.
Jesus is saying, “Placing God as head of the family gives us the ability to love and respect everyone and honour all of creation.”
***That’s not all--Jesus, then goes on to tell the crowd,” "Whoever does not carry the cross and follow me cannot be my disciple." Jesus doesn't mince words, does he? These are tough demands for followers.
I read a story of a man carrying a cross on the road. His name was Eddie Dickenson of Lamas, Texas. He has taken this verse literally, walking more than 3,000 miles through Texas, Louisiana, Mississippi and Florida. With a wheel affixed to the foot of the cross, he witnesses to people along his way while his wife follows in their motor home.
He was convinced that God called him to leave his job and hit the road carrying a cross.
To me, this verse, is all about TRANSFORMATION. It’s not carrying some heavy weight or wearing a cross; it suggests we need to die from our old ways and be born again; -- as Jesus went to his death on a cross and rose a new creation.
And on this the second week of our Lenten journey, Jesus invites us to follow his path that leads through death of the old you and me, and the birth of a new us---- a personal transformation.
Without this change, we are caught in a world of self-centeredness, —consumerism—of greed—petty jealousies-- prejudices and hatreds that hold us in bondage.
How can I change, I’m pretty good just as I am.
Jesus is saying to us, “If you don't want to change then don't follow me don’t join the church community because that’s what it’s all about—transformation—change our ways!” Jesus doesn’t coerce us, He wants us choose and Jesus doesn’t condemn those who choose not to follow.
Luke’s text began with tough words on family relationship and ends with difficult words about possessions.
“So therefore, none of you can become my disciple if you do not give up all your possessions.”
Back in those days, most of the people had few possessions so this was no problem for them. But for the wealthy, that’s another story!
Let’s face it, we are all pretty wealthy! Obviously, it is good to be wealthy, for wealth provided both comfort and security. To some it is commonly seen as a blessing from God that one has lived right.
So is wealth so bad? I wonder if Luke meant these words to be taken literally —or is it a metaphor about how we should USE our possessions.
** Imagine the conversation with Jesus going something like this:
Jesus says, “I offer all of you-- happiness, joy, peace, healing, security, eternity.” We marvel at such a life and we say, "I want this life. How much does it cost?"
Jesus replies, "It's too dear, too costly."---- "But how much?"
"Well, it's very expensive."----- "Do you think I could buy it?"
"Oh, of course. Anybody can." How much is it?"------- "It costs everything you have -- no more, no less -- so anybody can buy it."
"I'll buy it."--- "What do you have? Let's write it down."
"I have $10,000 in the bank." ---"Good, $10,000. What else?"
That's all I have."--- "Have you nothing more?"
""I have nothing else. That's all."
"Where do you live?"--- "I live in my house." ---"The house too."
"Then you mean I must live in the garage?"
"Have you a garage, too? That also. What else?"
"Do you mean that I must live in my car, then?"
"Have you a car?" "I have two." "Both become mine.-- What else?"--- "I have nothing else."
"Are you alone in the world?"--- "No, I have a spouse, two children.... "
"Your spouse and your children too. What else?"
"I have nothing else, I am left alone now." Nothing left!
Jesus says, “ Everything becomes mine: spouse, children, house, garage, cars, money, clothing, everything. And you too!!
Now you can have the use all those things here--- but don't forget they are mine, as you are. When I need any of the things you are using you must give them to me because now I am the owner." (1)
You see Jesus spoke of wealth as a source of bondage when we become obsessed with it, just like the family can become bondage, wealth too can become bondage. Jesus wants to free us from all forms of bondage.
I guess Jesus was being brutally frank about the cost when we choose to follow Him: 1-- have God at the centre of our lives 2-- to be willing to be changed to a new person and 3-- be willing to share all that we possess with those less fortunate.
THIS IS THE VERY ESSENCE OF CHRISTIANITY!! AMEN
(1) Adapted from an illustration found in The Call To Discipleship, by Juan Carlos Ortiz,